Veronica Mullin is an aspiring playwright and artist from New York. She is a graduate from New York University's Steinhardt School. Her original comedy play Wildcards was produced at the Bank Street Theatre in Manhattan's West Village. She is currently residing in Melbourne, Australia while working and writing to contribute to Melbourne's growing literary scene. 

Slapdash

Veronica Mullin

Cast of Characters

MAX - In her early 20’s. Fast talker, tends to ramble. A bit of a disheveled look.

 

ELLE - Mid-20’s. Dresses business chic.

 

CAMILLA - Any age. The stern boss of the office. Dresses very smart.

PAUL - An extra co-worker.

Scene

The front room in an office in New York City.

 

Time

Present day, early afternoon.

 

ACT I

SCENE 1

SETTING: Open on a modern office. There are two desks and two desk chairs on either side of the stage, back to back. There is a desk chair and computer monitor and keyboard or laptop at each desk. Very minimal decoration. There is a second chair beside the desk at stage right.

AT RISE: Stage left is CAMILLA sitting at her desk, which faces stage left so her back is to stage right. Stage right is ELLE sitting at her desk with her back to CAMILLA. They sit in silence, typing on their keyboards.

We hear TYPING, then the PING of an instant message being sent.

CAMILLA

(Speaking completely monotone, staring straight ahead into the computer screen)

Elle, did you respond to the email from the graphic design department?

We hear TYPING, then we again hear the PING of a message being sent. This continues between each line of dialogue. Their monotone indicates that it is their instant message being read aloud and cannot be heard by others on-stage.

ELLE

(Monotone, staring straight ahead into her computer screen)

Yes, Camilla, first thing when I came in this morning.

CAMILLA

(Monotone)

And you gave them all my notes?

ELLE

(Monotone)

Yes, they will make the changes by end of day.

CAMILLA

(Monotone)

And you pushed the conference call to 3:00PM?

ELLE

(Monotone)

Yes, everyone is aware of the time change. Paul said he may be working remotely today but will still call in for the conference.

CAMILLA

(Monotone)

We really need Paul to be in-office in person more often. He’s been getting lazy and working remotely far too often.

A beat. Then TYPING, then PING.

ELLE

(Monotone)

Yes.

Enter PAUL, stage left. He stops centre stage. He appears to be texting on his CELL PHONE and does not look up from the screen of his phone. PING.

PAUL

(Monotone, looking at his cell phone screen)

Good morning.

CAMILLA

(Monotone)

Good morning, Paul.

ELLE

(Slight enthusiasm)

Good morning!

PAUL exits stage right, never looking up from his CELL PHONE. We hear TYPING, then PING.

CAMILLA

(Monotone)

Watch your exclamation points.

ELLE

(Monotone)

Yes, sorry, just a typo.

 

CAMILLA

(Monotone)

We’re mad at Paul.

(Beat)

You said he wasn’t coming in today.

ELLE

(Monotone)

Yes, apologies. My mistake.

 

CAMILLA

(Monotone)

Yes.

MAX enters from stage left, standing right in front of CAMILLA’S desk. She runs on stage, out of breath. Her hair is a bit messy and maybe her clothes look wrinkled. She desperately tried to tidy herself. She has a messenger bag and a few notebooks and maybe a map of NYC.

MAX

(Out of breath, to CAMILLA)

Hey! Hi. I am so sorry, really just so sorry that I’m late! And on my first day. That’s just like job 101.

(Pause. CAMILLA does not look up.)

It’s actually my first week in New York. In the big city. So I still haven’t quite gotten the hang of the labyrinth of subway lines. I will try to remember my spool of yarn next time! Ha! Sorry, just a bit of a joke. Reference. Mythology joke.

(Beat)

Sorry, am I in the right place? I’m Max Robbins.

CAMILLA types, then again, the sound of the instant message PING.

CAMILLA

(Monotone)

What is this?

ELLE

(Monotone)

Maxine Robbins. 11:00am intern training. Hired out of the Connecticut office by request of one of the VPs.

CAMILLA

(Monotone)

Get her set up with Slapdash. I’ll deal with her later.

CAMILLA and ELLE continue typing to one another. Their conversation overlaps MAX’S ramble.

ELLE

(Monotone and simultaneous with MAX)

It doesn’t look like she has a laptop with her. Is there desk space yet?

CAMILLA

(Monotone)

Just get the Slapdash app on her phone for today.

ELLE

(Monotone)

Yes.

Beat.

CAMILLA

(Monotone)

Who sent her to us again?

ELLE

(Monotone)

Laura Robbins, VP of Communications in the Connecticut office. Likely a relative.

A beat. PING.

MAX

(Simultaneous)

Again, I know I was supposed to be here an hour ago, and I’m so embarrassed. But, like I said, I managed to get sort of lost, which I know is ridiculous really, seeing as the whole city has this grid system going on. Then you get down here and suddenly all the streets trade their numbers for names and I was thrown off track. If I was ever on track in the first place! Plus, I thought I was on the green line, I mean the 6 train, but turns out I was on a 5, which doesn’t stop at all the same stops, and before I know what had happened, we zoomed right passed this one. So finally I figured I’d just run it, I mean how far could it be, but I didn’t realize that…

CAMILLA

(Monotone)

I see. Deal with her.

ELLE

(Monotone)

Of course.

ELLE stands and turns to face MAX. Then she speaks in her normal, dynamic voice.

ELLE (continued)

Maxine Robbins?

MAX

Oh, hi, yes. For a second I thought I’d wandered into the twilight zone. But I was trying to just go with it. Oh, and you can call me Max.

MAX extends her hand and crosses to ELLE. They shake hands.

ELLE

I’m Elle. Pleased to meet you.

MAX

Yeah same. You worked here long?

ELLE turns around her chair to face MAX and sits. She motions for MAX to pull up a chair from behind her. She does and sits down across from ELLE.

ELLE

Yes, depending on what you define long as. A little over two years.

MAX

Longer than any job I’ve ever had.

ELLE

I’m not sure that’s something to brag about.

MAX

Oh, no, no bragging here. You must like it then?

ELLE

What do you mean?

MAX

Well to stay here for two years, must mean you enjoy it.

ELLE

Oh, sure. I, um, enjoy it. Yes.

MAX

Okay, well that’s convincing. Also, what was with the silent treatment before? Some sort of hazing or test? I totally failed, didn’t I?

 

ELLE

What? No, no hazing or anything. We just have a very specific system in place. You’ll see once you’re settled in. Now, we don’t have a designated desk for you just yet, but let’s get you set up with an office Slapdash account first. You’re the marketing intern, yes?

 

MAX

Ugh, yeah something like that. Sorry, what’s slap dasher?

ELLE

Slapdash. It’s our internal, digital communications platform. It incorporates email, instant messaging, file sharing, video conferences, pretty much anything we need. Once we get you set up with it, if you have any further questions, you’ll be able to just Slap me.

 

MAX

Excuse me? I can just what?!

ELLE

Slap me. It’s a term for any form of message or data sent via Slapdash. We used to call them Slapdashes, but that was too long. Now we can all Slap each other.

MAX

Oh. I see. But where did that come from? What is a Slapdash?

ELLE

It’s our communications platform.

 

MAX

Yeah, but the name? Something made up?

 

ELLE

Oh, the name Slapdash? It’s actually an old-fashioned word, originated sometime in the 17th Century, I believe. Our developers picked it to try and revive the word. It’s just obscure enough to be uncommon, and old enough that using it is supposedly on trend. I guess it’s… hipster?

MAX

Hey, not all revivals are hipster. Look at Cats. So, the word doesn’t have a modern meaning?

ELLE

Oh, it does. And it’s actually quite an interesting word. It’s one of those adverbs that doesn’t end in the typical

 

ELLE (Continued)

“-ly”, and can also function as an adjective. And now we’re turned it into a verb!

MAX

(Fake cough)

Nerd.

 

ELLE

(Embarrassed)

Hey!

MAX

No, no, I was just being stupid. It’s impressive that you know that sort of thing. I guess I was trying to be funny.

ELLE

(Embarrassed still)

Right. Well, um anyway, it means something done haphazardly or in haste without much thought. Offhand. Careless. I suppose that makes it ironic since we use it to make communicating more efficient. Then again, they only chose it because it sounds cool and can be said quickly and remembered easily. Like any of the others. Vibe. Slack. Kick.

 

MAX

Are you having a stroke?

ELLE

You mean you didn’t have any type of internal communications platform in Connecticut? What did you do instead of Slapping?

MAX

We punched each other.

ELLE

Oh, I haven’t heard of Punch before.

MAX

What? No, I was just joking! We didn’t punch. Or kick or slap. We had a communications platform. It was called talking. You know, just like we’re doing right now. And for someone unfamiliar with this communications platform, I must say you’re doing splendidly.

ELLE

Very funny. Of course, we talk. Sometimes. It’s just easier to Slap.

MAX

Now Elle, violence is never the answer.

ELLE

Let’s get you hooked up with Slapdash anyway and you can get starting Slapping yourself.

MAX

(Dryly)

Can’t wait.

ELLE

You didn’t bring your laptop?

MAX

Was I supposed to bring my own laptop?

ELLE

Interns are required to, yes.

MAX

Shit, I’m really not nailing this whole first day thing. And now I’ve just gone and said shit to my boss on my first day. Twice.

ELLE

Boss? Me? No. I mean technically I am above you, but your boss is our VP, CAMILLA. That’s her desk, just there. Slapdash was actually her idea. Other branches and even other companies have adopted it now and she’s made a decent fortune off it. But her main focus is running the company here in New York. Been with the company since day one. She can be quite cold. But she is so impressive. I’ll give you a proper Slap introduction later.

MAX

Sounds like you’ve got a little crush.

ELLE

I admire my boss, okay? Our boss actually. And I used to really admire her, but lately…

MAX

Ah, less intrigued by your internal world of Slapping madness?

ELLE

No, sorry I shouldn’t even be complaining. Camilla is a wonderful boss.

MAX

I’m sure. Hey, I didn’t mean to push. If you can’t tell, I’m a bit nervous. And when I’m nervous I joke, and overshare, and just talk too much. Which evidently makes me stand out in New York. For one of the loudest cities in the world, it’s also the quietest. For the busiest city, it seems lonely. How does anyone find their place here? Maybe it’s just the transition into this grey winter, but even in the short week I’ve been here somehow not only the city, but its residents seem to be getting colder. And there I go. Oversharing. Talking too much.

 

ELLE

You do talk a lot.

MAX

Sorry.

ELLE

And apologize a lot.

MAX

Sorry. Oh shit, I did it again. And said shit. Twice. Again! Ah, you better Slap me.

 

ELLE

How about you just hand me your phone?

 

MAX

Oh, sure.

MAX pulls out her CELL PHONE. It’s an old, chunky flip-phone. She hands it to ELLE.

 

ELLE

You have got to be joking. What on Earth are you doing with this relic? Is Connecticut from another decade?

MAX

Ha, I know, I know; “Max get with the times!” And it’s not me trying to be ironic or hipster or anything. It’s just a phone. I like the simplicity of it. It still texts. Makes calls. Just without the other fancy, distracting stuff. Pretty much gets full marks in the “being a cell phone” category. It gets the job done. Something I don’t seem to be making any progress towards…

 

ELLE

Well, Slap is only downloadable on smartphones. Preferably from this century.

 

MAX

Hey, a joke. I must say, you’re killing it at the face-to-face interaction. As much fun as Slapping sounds, isn’t talking nice sometimes?

ELLE

People can have fun through text-based communications, too. And it really is efficient. Don’t completely write it off.

MAX

I’m sure I’ll be Slapping myself silly in no time.

ELLE

I’ll ask CAMILLA what she wants to do with you for today. Can you at least bring your laptop into work tomorrow? You do own a laptop, don’t you?

MAX

Of course! Hey, think Slap will work on a 1993 Apple PowerBook 150?

(MAX laughs. ELLE looks shocked)

Kidding! I’ve got nice shiny modern laptop that will help me Slap all my new co-workers.

ELLE

Great, let me message CAMILLA.

 

ELLE turns back to her computer and types. PING.

 

ELLE (continued)

(Monotone)

Maxine does not have a laptop. Where can I send her for today?

 

CAMILLA continues TYPING, then PING.

CAMILLA

(Monotone)

Just deal with it.

ELLE

(Monotone)

I still have work to get done before the 12 o’clock meeting. Maybe HR can set her up?

 

CAMILLA

(Monotone)

No need for you to come to the meeting.

ELLE

(Monotone)

I thought I should be there.

(Pause)

Are you sure?

CAMILLA continues typing but does not send another message to ELLE. There’s a beat of silence.

MAX

Everything okey-dokey? Am I going to slap someone today?

ELLE turns around in her chair. She looks sad.

MAX

Whoa, seriously, you alright, Elle? I’m sensing a major mood change.

 

ELLE looks through a drawer in her desk and pulls out what could be an iPhone or similar.

 

ELLE

(Handing the phone to MAX)

Here. You can use this so we can get you set up with Slapdash. It’s not active, so it will only work when you are connected to Wi-Fi, which means you’ll at least have it here in the office. Open the Slapdash app and just follow the instructions.

MAX

Um, okay. Listen, I’m sorry for all the joking around. Like I mentioned; I’m nervous. I can see you take your job seriously, and I will too. I swear.

ELLE

Yes, I do take my job seriously. And yes, you should too. But honestly, it’s not your inappropriate or overly casual demeanor.

MAX

(To herself)

Overly casual?

ELLE

There is this quite important meeting today to with the CEO and all the department heads to finalize details for a project we’re launching in the spring. Camilla had hinted that at this meeting she was going to recommend me to be one of the project leaders. And now she doesn’t even want me there, so looks like I’m off the project entirely. Just like that.

MAX

I’m so sorry. Did she say why?

 

ELLE

No. And she’s ignoring my message. I don’t want to Slap her too much; she’ll only get annoyed. I’ll likely never get an answer and the project will come and go with someone else taking the lead.

MAX

Well, that’s bullshit.

ELLE

Hey!

MAX

I’m not even sorry I’ve gone and said shit five – now six – times on my first day. You’ve been here over two years! Just ask your – our – boss why she took you off the meeting.

ELLE

I already Slapped her.

MAX

And a lot of good that did! You need to slap her with your mouth! Okay, that sounded weird, but the truth is in there. You need to speak with her. Out loud.

 

ELLE

No, I can’t. I couldn’t.

MAX

But you can! She’s right there!

ELLE

But that’s not how it works!

MAX

Maybe it should be! Sure, Slapping sounds great and it gets the message across, but it doesn’t get the emotion across. Which maybe works for some cases, but not all. How can she know how much this means to you? I can hear it in your voice. Key word being hear it. Expression is part of the beauty of language. It’s how I can say

(Sincerely)

“I love New York!” and

(Sarcastically)

“I love New York” and convey two very different feelings about this city. Just ask her why. What have you got to lose? The meeting? The project?

ELLE

Fine.

MAX

Woo! Wow, yes, let’s do this. Mouth-slap the shit out of her. Oops, that’s seven.

 

ELLE

Okay, here I go. I can do this.

ELLE crosses stage right to CAMILLA’S desk and stands beside her.

ELLE (continued)

Camilla?

(Beat of silence)

Camilla, I need to ask you something.

(CAMILLA types, then PING.)

No, I thought I could ask you something face-to-face.

(Takes a deep breath)

Camilla, why did you take me out of that meeting?

 

CAMILLA continues typing without looking at ELLE. PING. PING. PING.

ELLE (continued)

No, I’d like you to respond please. I’ve been hard-working and loyal for two years and I have never asked for anything.

(PING. PING.)

Why did you take me off the project?

CAMILLA

(Standing and facing ELLE)

Because I don’t want you on the project. Because you have enough 

responsibilities that require your focus and I didn’t want you taking on too much. You clearly can’t handle it. Yet. Now, you can work on what I’ve asked you to or you can work somewhere else.

 

CAMILLA sits back down and returns to typing. ELLE crosses back to her own desk, looking defeated.

MAX

Elle, I’m so sorry that went poorly.

 

ELLE

You know, Max, there’s something you left out in your little “I love organic, meaningful dialogue la la la” speech. We are flawed. All of us. We’re emotional and often it shows when we speak. Which is great, it’s a wonderful thing, but it doesn’t belong in the work sphere. Here, the written word prevails for a reason. It’s cleaner and more efficient. Written language is the basis of modern communications. It’s what crosses borders and breaks boundaries and propels successful businesses forward. It’s why the telegraph, and email, and texting, and all messaging platforms were created. And it’s how we are able to at least begin to control human errors and emotions.

MAX

But don’t you think –

ELLE

Max, this is how we do things. Yes, Slapdash has its errors too and it’s not a replacement for contact or conversing, but it is an enhancement! And it’s integral to this office. If you want to be successful here, in this business, in this city, then you have to keep an open mind to both sides. And I suggest you start Slapping. Otherwise, well, I think you may have just about talked your way out of a job. That’s what your communications can get you.

ELLE storms offstage.

MAX

Shit. Ah, well that’s eight.

LIGHTS DIM.

ACT I

SCENE 2

SETTING: The scene has reset to the same as the opening. CAMILLA sits at her desk, typing. ELLE sits are her desk, also typing.

AT RISE: MAX enters, holding the iPhone that ELLE gave her. She is now tidy and her hair is in a bun. ELLE types and we hear a PING. MAX looks at the phone.

ELLE

(Monotone, staring at her computer screen)

Hey.

(More typing. Another PING.)

Good morning.

ELLE turns to look at MAX who is still staring into her phone’s screen. MAX looks at ELLE and they hold eye-contact for a beat before ELLE turns back to her screen and MAX looks back down to the phone. Her fingers move as if texting. Another PING.

MAX

(Monotone, staring at screen)

Good morning.

MAX continues to stare at the phone and exits.

LIGHTS DIM.

 

THE END.